Rowing during a Pandemic


Photo Courtesy of Seattle Prep Rowing Instagram page. @seattlepreprowing_

Ava Pitts, Staff Writer

For the Seattle Prep crew team, fall in Seattle means tryouts, after-school practices, training, and regattas. Seattle is the perfect spot for rowing with the waterways of Lake Union and Washington at our doorstep. However, this Fall means something different for crew. In a pandemic year, and with many school sports cancelled or postponed, the Seattle Prep crew team was relieved to learn they would be able to begin practicing last week. Though this year the boats may look a little different.

Due to Covid-19, Prep’s growing crew program has had to make quite a few adjustments. In addition to standard mask and social distancing requirements, the overall format of crew practices has changed dramatically. Typically, rowers work as a team, rowing as doubles, quads and even eights. But COVID protocols require all rowers to practice in their own boats, known as singles.

Coach Tom Kellett worked with the crew team to develop a pod system for practice scheduling . These pods are groups of 4-5 people with similar athletic ability who help each other with getting boats out and work out together when not on the water. The pods help minimize contact among rowers and ensure that if a rower is exposed to Covid, the fewest number of crew team members will be impacted and need to quarantine.

Additional protocols are put in place for extensive equipment cleaning including dipping oars in bleach solutions and disinfecting all surfaces and equipment. Freshman Claire Cunningham thinks the new system is working well. “Although I don’t like wearing a mask to work out, I really feel safe and like everyone is committed to developing the team dynamics.”

While Seattle Prep’s crew team will not be participating in any regattas this fall, the hope is that athletes will develop a strong team without physically rowing with each other. Hopefully next Spring, rowers across the country will be able to compete in boats together.